Recent Events

Thursday, 16 August 2012

‘Start Shooting’ by Charlie Newton

Published by Doubleday,
January, 2012.
ISBN: 978-0-385-53469-7

The one-page prologue of sorts, headed “Chicago,” opens with the words “The girl was thirteen and Irish, and fashioned out of sunlight so bright she made you believe in angels,” and ends with these:
“Nineteen years I’ve been a ghetto cop and thought I’d worked every heartbreaking, horror combination possible.  But I hadn’t.  I wasn’t marginally prepared for how bad six days could get.  And neither was anyone else.”  And then the author details those six days, the p.o.v. alternating between that of Arleen Brennan and Bobby Vargas, the cop. The writer’s style is such that there was a smile on my face at page 1 [following the single page containing that prologue], which describes the Four Corners neighbourhood in the South Side of Chicago, and its multi-cultural inhabitants.

The tale begins in the winter of 1982, filling in a lot of the history of Chicago over the last 50+ years, even for those who think they remember all the stories of corruption and race riots.  Chicago is hopeful of hosting the 2016 Olympics and the “salvation” it would surely mean for the city, with the ensuing influx of revenue for a cash-strapped town.  All very entertaining, with just an undercurrent of danger - - until the shooting starts, that is.  At that point, things take a different turn, becoming dark and edgy, with a fair amount of violence.  The craziness gets a bit hard to follow at times, but that didn’t slow the turning of pages at all.

At its heart this is a novel about two pairs of siblings, Arleen and Coleen Brennan, beautiful blond twin sisters, the latter not surviving past the age of 13, when she was raped to death, Arleen escaping the city and not seen again for 29 years, when she appears in the book’s opening pages.  Bobby and Reuben Vargas are brothers, Bobby 42 as the story starts, Reuben, a cop and “a street legend in Chicago,” the older brother who was Bobby’s hero for half his life, their parents born in Mexico but the boys having grown up in Four Corners. Ambition
is just one thing Arleen and Bobby have in common, for a future, and ame, as an actress and a guitar-playing musician, respectively.  But Arleen is waiting tables, and Bobby is a cop who plays “in the band, weekends around town;” one other thing they have in common is a deep love for their siblings.

Start Shooting is one of the most original novels I’ve read in a while, and though I can’t say I held my breath as it headed towards it denouement, I was white-knuckled from gripping the book so tightly in my hands.  Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Gloria Feit
Also by Charlie Newton 
Calumet City featuring Patti Black, the most decorated cop in Chicago.

Charlie Newton was born in Chicago and reads like that of one of his characters. He has built successful bars/restaurants and resort apartments, raced thoroughbreds that weren't quite so successful, and brokered television and film in the Middle East to gentlemen who often weren't. Generally speaking, he's lived a life in the borderlands (literal and figurative) where stories like Start Shooting and Calumet City happen. And survived to enjoy it.

Gloria and Ted Feit live in Long Beach, NY, a few miles outside New York City.  For 26 years, Gloria was the manager of a medium-sized litigation firm in lower Manhattan. Her husband, Ted, is an attorney and former stock analyst, publicist and writer/editor for, over the years, several daily, weekly and monthly publications.  Having always been avid mystery readers, and since they're now retired, they're able to indulge that passion.  Their reviews appear online as well as in three print publications in the UK and US.  On a more personal note: both having been widowed, Gloria and Ted have five children and nine grandchildren between them.

No comments:

Post a Comment